How To Choose A Hotel Program?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by SgtPeppers, Jul 25, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. SgtPeppers
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    SgtPeppers Silver Member

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    How do you choose a hotel program?

    If this were an airline program, I would choose an airline that has a hub at an airport closest to me. I would look at max partners and reward plans.

    What about Hotel Program? How do you choose one?
     
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  2. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    In a lot of ways you consider the same things, except there is more overlap and the product can be more differentiated.

    Consider how many stays you anticipate per year, and where. Are you staying in mostly metropolitan areas where all of the major groups have properties, or do you anticipate traveling where your options are limited? Do you anticipate a number of stays or nights that can get you high elite status with one or more chains? If so, that's good to consider. What sort of hotels do you typically pay for?

    My personal strategy is to focus on hotels that have hotels that my employer sees as reasonable at the low end, with high-end properties available for redemption. I have enough stays yearly to hit top tier in 2 programs, depending on how many stays I get stuck with a conference hotel in a different program (I'm silver in Marriott, even though I try to avoid them due to conferences). My travel patterns include a fair amount of travel in smaller towns where options may typically include a Hampton, some Mariott property, a Holiday Inn Express, etc. Out of those three programs, I choose Hilton, and by doing that am well on pace for Diamond. When staying in places with more options, I try to avoid Hilton for a couple of reasons. The first is that Hamptons, a typical Hilton option for employer-paid stays, run a fine line between being clean and comfy and having terrible, unliveable flaws. The decor drives me nutty after a while, and half of them have completely unworkable desks (too high due to idiotically sitting a normal height desk on casters!). The second is that I want to get top status on another group as well. My options for this were starwood and Hyatt, and Hyatt just does not have the market penetration for me to get to diamond, absent some sort of promo in the second half of the year. Thus my target is Starwood plat and Hilton Diamond, with a smattering of stays at Hyatt and Marriott for various reasons. I pretty much ignore priority club.

    If you don't stay enough to obtain meaningful elite status, it might be most fruitful to keep abreast of nice bonuses and let those dictate your loyalty. Stay X get a free stay bonuses can be particularly nice.
     
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  3. SgtPeppers
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    SgtPeppers Silver Member

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    great insight thanks...
     
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  4. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    If you travel for work, explore whether your employer has arrangements for a contracted rate and whether you can also use the discount code for leisure stays. I'm assuming that you're already aware of any company requirements for business travel, which could involve having hotels on some rank-ordered preferred list automatically selected for you when available.
     
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  5. SgtPeppers
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    SgtPeppers Silver Member

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    Hi MSPeconomist... that's a great advice. Totally forgot about work related recommendations. That's another good insight.
     
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  6. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    I go through the similar logic that mattsteg does as well except that I tend to want status with certain programs (Hyatt and Starwood) and will do whatever I can to re-earn status with them. This is due to the fact that they have properties which I want to redeem my points at as well as their top tier status actually providing meaningful benefits.

    If they are not available (due to the location &/or corporate rate) I then choose my 3rd program which is available pretty much everywhere (Hilton for me but Marriott and Priority Club are also generally everywhere as mentioned above). The only change to this plan is if there is a very lucrative bonus (comparatively) which makes it worth postponing stays with my top 2 programs.
     
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  7. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    Initially getting into it all, you might look at who will offer you the quickest path to elite status. When I first started staying with Hyatt, it was because they offered me a trial Diamond status because of my Delta Platinum Medallion status. SPG matched my Hyatt status, and I've maintained SPG Platinum ever since. (SPG had a better selection of properties for the places where I work. My trial Hyatt Diamond offer was many years ago and was a targeted offer.)

    With SPG, you can start with SPG Preferred Plus status if you are a member of AAA or most other national auto clubs. They also have a challenge program in place now to quickly earn Platinum status.

    In terms of earning rewards, determine your goals. If you want to earn free hotel nights for vacation, see which chains have hotels where you want to go and how many nights (including bonuses and promos) it would take to earn the rewards. If conversion to airline miles are your goal, the answer may be completely different. (And if redeeming for merchandise is your goal, seek additional help. ;))

    There's no perfect way to compare this for everyone's travel patterns in a single chart, but there are some good general attempts out there already in forums, blogs, and magazines.
     
  8. AZguy

    AZguy Silver Member

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    Many credit cards offer some level of elite status. The amex platinum (while spendy) gives you SPG Gold, usually 10 stays or 25 nights. Other affiliated cards offer some status too. It's not top tier but it can help make the stays it takes to get there more fun.

    Another thing to consider is how easy will it be to requalify in subsequent years. One of the nice things about Hilton's program is that award stays are counted towards elite qualification.
     
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  9. kenbo
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    kenbo Silver Member

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    That really is a nice benefit but I also think it's offset a little by the higher number of stays/nights required to achieve elite status.
     
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  10. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    IIRC AmEx Centurion used to get SPG Plat, but now it's only SPG Gold.

    I think there was a time when top elite airline (I think I got it from PE on NW) status got SPG Gold and I think this might still be true for some airlines and Hilton if not other hotel chains. It's certainly worth checking for connections between airlines you use and hotel chains, although anything that requires that hotel stays/nights/spend be credited to the FF program may be less interesting. (In my case, a lot of my early SPG stays were credited to airline FF accounts (but they didn't give any status miles, which means they might not count if SPG ever offers lifetime status.)
     
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  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I skip the traditional hotel programs. I pay for my stays out of pocket and the premium I'd have to pay at 50+ nights/year just to show loyalty to a traditional brand is WAY too much money to spend on the minimal return those points and status accrue. That said, I'm a fan of the hotels.com Welcome Rewards program that offers up a wide variety of hotels and still offers decent return on the bit I'm spending without the need to stay in a hotel that is overpriced, out of the way or otherwise not what I want just to remain loyal to a random brand.

    One of the most important bits to consider in my view is the value of the benefits you might receive. Neither the elite status benefits nor the points hold the value to me that the spend to acquire them would require.
     
  12. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    most important question I have is are you paying for the hotel or is an employer? (in other words, do you have a number or majority of your stays are business related/paid?)
     
  13. MSPeconomist
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    If you think you may need to do a "mattress run" or more to make status, are there reasonable nearby properties that you could use? Paying for a cheap hotel night might be worthwhile, but perhaps not if you must purchase a plane ticket to do it or spend more time in your car than you would prefer.
     
  14. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    We decided some time ago not to be tied to any one program. We are members of all the major programs and we base our stays on price, what promotions are being offered and sometimes stay at hotels outside the majors just because we want to experience a certain hotel.

    We do not have any significant status but actually don't mind that as we never get upset about not getting upgraded etc.
     
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  15. Audy_KTUH

    Audy_KTUH Silver Member

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    I travel frequently between all the islands here in Hawaii for work and most of the time it is prohibitively expensive to stay at any of the major brand hotels. Therefore, I can't use my work travel to pursue elite status with any of the brands recommended here. However, I can use hotels.com and their welcome rewards program as even the small locally owned hotels are listed and can be credited towards free reward nights. To add to Wandering Aramean's point above you should determine whether your work and leisure travel patterns will allow you to receive the benefits or rewards that are most important to you, without creating additional financial burden.
     

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